Greens claim Rio forced employees to post positive expansion submissions

Greens MP David Shoebridge has accused Rio Tinto of forcing its employees to post positive responses for its public submission for the Mt Thorley Warkworth expansion.

Shoebridge claimed leaked Rio Tinto emails demonstrate the miner had pushed its workers to make the submissions, according to the ABC.

It comes after the miner saw around 900 positive submissions to its scaled back expansion plan.

"The more than 900 submissions lodged in favour of the extension outnumber those against by a margin of 6 to 1," NSWMC CEO Stephen Galilee said.

"This is a very clear sign of strong local support for the Warkworth mine, the jobs it provides and the economic stability it delivers to the local region.

"Approval for this extension of [Rio Tinto subsidiary] Coal & Allied Warkworth operation will help protect the jobs of 1300 people directly employed at the mine for the next two years, as well as those working in around 1000 supplier businesses."

However Shoebridge claimed shenanigans.

"We've seen Rio Tinto having an open email to its employees urging them to go and make personal submissions on both the planning bill and other matters," he said.

"Effectively disguising their corporate lobbying as being self generated individual submissions from their employees, and there is a degree of dishonesty in that."

One commentor on the Australian Mining story yesterday supported Shoebridge's claims.

"[The] Mt Thorley CEO sent a letter to all its employees urging them to lodge a submission to help boost the for rate v's against rate," they stated.

"We've got what is a dishonest process where Rio Tinto is effectively getting its individual employees to put in submissions looking as though they were generated by, produced by these individuals, when they've been presented after having a big shove in the back by there corporate employer," Shoebridge told the ABC.

Shoebridge and his claims were slammed by the NSW Minerals Council, which stated that the Greens member had shown a complete disregard for working people concerned for their jobs.

"His attack on the credibility of submissions made by mining workers in support of a project to secure their own jobs is offensive to the workers involved, their families and thousands more across NSW," it said in a statement.
Stephen Galilee, the NSW Minerals Council CEO, added: "it seems that according to David Shoebridge, if you are a miner your views don’t count, even if your job is on the line".

"More than 900 submissions were lodged in support of the Warkworth extension, including many from workers at the project genuinely concerned about their jobs. David Shoebridge should respect their views and their concerns, and not dismiss them as second class citizens.

"The views of the workers at the project deserve to be heard loud and clear, not dismissed by this out of touch politician."

One miner added to this, telling the ABC they weren't forced, but "they pointed us to the website to make submissions if we wanted to".

"Not really a solid push, like I don't think we were made to do anything that we didn't want to do," he said.

"For me personally I sort of made it based on my situation and the way I want my future there to be."

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